Couples should establish rules when they are in a long distance relationship.
While a long distance relationship can occur between an individual and a friend, family member or romantic partner, most people associate the term with a romantic relationship. The Center for the Study of Long Distance Relationships estimates that 2.9 percent of U.S. marriages function as long distance relationships. More than 7 million individuals, including those who aren't married, consider themselves to be in a long distance relationship.
There are many reasons why a couple may need to enter into a long distance relationship. Careers, including the military, may be a prime factor in the decision. Extended military leave often forces couples to be apart on a regular basis. Other job-related issues include promotions that require moving to another city. In some cases, one person will move and get established before the other person joins them. For younger couples, attending different universities can force them into a long distance relationship. Many celebrities and musicians find that working in different locations and touring forces a long distance relationship.
Some people meet through online dating sites. These people may enter into a long distance relationship before deciding whether to move to the same area. Other people meet on vacations or during business trips. In these types of situations, the long distance relationship acts as a trial period to a more permanent relationship.
Online Dating Magazine reports that according to Dr. Greg Guldner, a published author and graduate of Purdue University's Clinical Psychology program, 70 percent of long distance relationship fail within six months when the couple fails to establish rules. Dr. Guldner wrote the book "Long Distance Relationships: The Complete Guide" as a guide to surviving a long distance relationship and advocates establishing rules like how often you will call, how often you will physically see each other and other important aspects regarding the relationship. Most couples in a long distance relationship should communicate daily, through phone calls or e-mails. Both people should be honest about their expectations, including whether the couple will be exclusive to one another while apart.
The Counseling Center at Missouri University of Science and Technology lists the keys, or rules, to an effective long distance relationship, which include:
With the technologies available through the Internet, a long distance couple can stay in touch without going broke. Voice over Internet Protocol connects people across long distances without the additional charge of a long distance phone call. Webcams allow couples to see each other on the computer screen while talking or chatting. Cell phones also reduce the expense of using a regular land line, and some phone companies now offer free long distance phone calls on certain plans.
Having a support group is also a good idea. The people in this group understand the trials and frustrations involved in a long distance relationship, have similar morals and act as encouragement to maintain the relationship when times get tough. Other ways couples can deal with the stress of a long distance relationship include writing poetry, going to a movie or participating in a worthwhile cause.
Romance can help reassure a romantic partner that feelings are echoed by the other person. Care packages, gift baskets or other presents can be mailed to show the sincerity and depth of the connection. Paying attention to things said in phone calls and e-mails is important, especially when it comes to the things that a partner or spouse likes. Books, music, pictures and other presents can make a person feel loved. Personalized gifts with a message engraved also make a person feel special. Another idea is to send flowers for special occasions or for no reason at all, sometimes called preventive maintenance.
When it comes to long distance relationships, some people forget to schedule dates. Dating in a long distance relationship means scheduling events or activities and the time to discuss them. For example, a couple can order the same type of food and have a telephone conversation over dinner. Or the couple could plan to see the same movie and have a conversation about it after they've both seen the film. Other ideas include reading the same book, visiting places like museums or incorporating other activities like bowling into the date. The important thing is for the couple to plan the event or activity as a date.